Re: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO

Subject: Re: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO
From: David Tolpin <dvd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 13:51:13 +0400 (AMT)
> In a short, it is natural to pay money for a good software 
> product in modern society. Or do you wish to go back a few 
> thousands year ago?

How open-source is related to free? There are good tools which
are both open-source and free. There are bad tools that are
open-soure and free. Many open-source and free tools, both
good and bad, are developed by engineering teams on good
salaries. Some closed-source commercial tools are developed
by greatly underpaid engineers. With natural results.

Many free open-source tools greatly outperform commercial
ones. The opposite is true too.

Many good open-source tools have commercial licenses: PDFlib,
Ghostscript, Inferno to name just a few. 

There is an open-source tool, which, while not freely re-distributable,
is distributed for free, and has no real closed-source competitor.
Sun Java, I mean.

> I admit open source is one method of software development
> now, but it will be difficult to produce a good software 
> in a short time by open source development model in general. 

It is difficult to produce good open-source software in the
same timeframe as closed-source software of average quality,
with deficiencies hidden by the source being closed.

Regarding XSL FO implementations, it is a pity that
there is no good open-source XSL FO implementation. Both
for developers of XSL FO implementations, and for users of
XSL FO-enabled applications, it would be a great relief
to have such a tool. 

Tools are released open-source for two reasons (at least);
1) because they are so well-written that releasing them open-source
(with a free license for non-commercial applications) 
only adds to their commercial value and helps spread their use and stage
out competitors.

2) because they are written so poorly that not providing the source
renders them unusable.

In between there are closed-source applications, written not well-enough
to proudly show their internals. Too many obvious things to fix. 
Not too well written build scripts. Source codes not documented
well enough.

Sadly, open source XSL FO implementations are in the second category
for open source products. Distributing them with the source is the only
hope to make them actually usable.

Any commercial implementation on the market which releases open source
for its tool with a license suitable for free non-commercial use immediately
wins competition and secures its future, since commercial use will
be supported by the confidence in sustainability, code reviews and
wide base of non-commercial users.

Unfortunately, my feeling is none of the half-dozen vendors of XSL FO
is ready for that for purely technical reasons. I hope it will eventually

David Tolpin

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